Some days I´m crazy productive; other days, I can´t get anything done. Some days the words flow out of me; other days, I can´t write a single word. And while I love to socialize some weeks, others I just want to lock myself up and be alone.
Sometimes I feel like a totally different person, like I´m not myself. And, to be honest, often I wish I´d always be the same… that spontaneous, enthusiastic, fired-up entrepreneur who gets sh*t done and flies through her to-do list like it’s nothing.
How is this possible? Well… it might surprise you, but (usually) this is due to the menstrual cycle.
The first time I heard about the relationship between the menstrual cycle and productivity was last year, and it immediately intrigued me. So I dove into the topic, learned more about it, and started recognizing more and more. One book I read about this was the Optimized Woman, written by Miranda Gray, and in this article, I will share my insights from reading this book and show you how to hack your cycle as an entrepreneur to be more productive.
Disclaimer: obviously, this is how you CAN feel, but this will be different for everyone. It can even be different from month-to-month or day-to-day. This information is intended to be a guideline and a starting point for understanding what you may experience in each phase. The best thing you can do is to start tracking this for yourself and optimize your productivity based on YOUR cycle.
There are 4 phases
The first thing you should know is that you can divide the menstrual cycle in 4 phases. In this article I will share about the reflective phase, or winter, which is (on average) during the first 6 days of your cycle.
The other phases are;
Phase 2: dynamic phase or spring, day 7 – 13 of your cycle
Phase 3: expressive phase or summer, day 14 – 20 of your cycle
Phase 4: creative phase or autumn, day 21 – 28 of your cycle
The reflective phase in short
At home (in bed, or not at all…)
Reflecting, deciding on what to STOP doing & setting new goals
Busy days and having high expectations
Phase 1: the reflective phase
The first phase is the ´reflective phase,´ which is also often referred to as ´winter.´ This phase typically lasts from day 1 till day 6 of your menstrual cycle and are the days that you are actually menstruating.
During this phase, all you wanna do is curl up in bed and be alone. Your energy is low, you need a lot of sleep, it´s harder to focus, and you need a lot of willpower to take action.
You´re in a slower flow and prefer to be alone. You must give yourself a break and get some rest because if you don´t, it may take longer to get new energy, and it´s even possible to have less energy during the rest of the month!
If we don´t allow ourselves ´down time´ during the reflective phase, we can either take longer to develop the Dynamic Phase energies and abilities, have less energy throughout the month or experience physical symptoms which force us to stop. – Miranda Gray
Often during this phase, you will feel less ambitious and will be happy with the things you have right now, instead of feeling that fire to live your full potential and strive for more. Your ego is quieter, and therefore it´s easier to really see and feel who you are beneath all your daily thoughts, fears, and expectations.
Because your dreams and ambitions seem less important during this phase, it is a good time to set priorities. Take a moment to step back and think about what really matters to you and which things are in line with what you really want.
If we can stop caring about something through menstruation is it still important enough for us to pick it up again in the dynamic phase, or can we let it go from our life? – Miranda Gray
Take time to daydream (yes, it’s totally allowed recommended during this phase) and imagine different scenarios. Where do you want to take your business? What does your dream life look like? Is your business supporting your lifestyle?
If you need to make a decision, try to visualize what will happen when you do A and what will happen if you do B. How will this decision feel in the long term? Your intuition is really strong in this phase, so use it and trust it. Feel which way is the right direction. Feel what your next step is. Look at the big picture.
Think about your long term goals, short term changes, and new ideas. The more you visualize it now, the more committed you will become in the next phases.
Pay attention: stick to setting goals, but don´t make a plan yet or try to carry it out. This will come in the next phases of your cycle.
The creative phase is like the fall when we drop our emotional leaves, and the reflective phase is like the winter where we decide which new leaves we will grow and where we will grow them when the spring energies return. – Miranda Gray
Take a step back (yes, seriously)
Take the time to relax. I know this can be hard as a high-achiever, but this is important! Not giving in to this phase and trying to keep going hard might even cause stress. You really need to renew your energy in this phase. If you do this, you´ll be able to achieve a lot more later on.
If you know when your menstruation is coming up, try to plan in advance and take one or more days off. Be kind to yourself and try to just go with the flow these days. If that means Netflixing all day, so be it. Isn´t that the good part about being an entrepreneur?
Do´s and don´ts
This is the best time for;
Processing things alone
Rest and renew
Revise how you think about things
Don’ts in the reflective phase;
Work a lot and make long days
Start new projects
Make a planning
Learn new things
Social interactions (co-working, networking, partnerships etc.)
How to hack the reflective phase
Make time to sleep and relax more. Powernaps are your best friend!
Stay away from the gym for a few days
Only drink coffee if it’s reaaaally needed
Slow the eff down. Walk slow, do less. Go through this phase like a snail.
Don’t make big decisions
Reflect on the things that came up during the creative phase.
Enjoy feeling ‘zen’.
Go into nature.
Take time to reflect on how you feel about your projects and tasks.
Daydream about tasks, projects and problems. Don’t force the answers, but observe how you feel when you think about them.
Trust your intuition.
See when you have energy and use this energy for tasks that demand mental power.
Avoid appointments with clients.
Wait to learn a new skill or follow a course till the dynamic phase.
Wait till the dynamic phase to work on projects that need a lot of motivation and enthusiasm from you.
GOALS in the reflective phase
Make sure you don’t plan any big tasks and deadlines during this phase and enjoy a small break.
Decide what you’ll focus on during the next month(s)
This is the perfect time to change your big, long-term goal if it does not feel good anymore.
Visualize how you would feel if your big goal/dream becomes a reality.
How to use it in your business
Think about the things you can STOP doing
Reflect on the past month
Visualize your dream life and dream business. Where would you love to take it?
Think about what you can change in your business so it fits your lifestyle even better
Set goals for next month (but don´t make a plan yet!)
Time to implement!
Now that you know more about how to hack the reflective phase of your cycle, it´s time to start implementing it. Plan ahead for your next reflective phase (if possible) and try to have your calendar cleared these days.
When you are in this phase, write down everything you notice. How do you feel? Which tasks are easy and which seem impossible? How is your energy, and what do you enjoy doing? Track everything (in the book, Miranda explains how you can do this and what to track exactly in a lot more detail) and try implementing some of the hacks from this article.
The next article will cover phase 2 of the cycle, the dynamic phase -or spring- (my absolute favorite!).